niki_chidon: (Lewis_gaze)
Niki ([personal profile] niki_chidon) wrote2012-09-08 08:57 pm
Entry tags:

Fic: To Whom I'm Bound (Lewis, Lewis/Hathaway)

Title: To Whom I'm Bound
Writer: Niki
Fandom: Lewis
Rating: R
Pairing: Lewis/Hathaway
Disclaimer: Not mine
Words: 7043
Beta: First half by incomparable [livejournal.com profile] lygtemanden, but she hasn't seen the latter half (because my writer's block only broke this week), so nothing is her fault. Wonderful, wonderful Neith read the rest with like a five minute's warning, so don't blame her either.
Summary: When he wakes up he realises what has been bugging him about the case, about Zoë, her air of artificiality... it was all too familiar, and that means Hathaway is still in danger.Vampire AU.
Notes: Someone asked for a Vampire AU in the prompts for [livejournal.com profile] lewis_challenge last summer and I started writing this one night (at Neith's, coincidentally). [livejournal.com profile] lygtemanden convinced me to continue. So here it is, for this year's Summer Challenge! Title from Le Vampire by Charles Baudelaire. For the “first transformation” square on my [livejournal.com profile] hc_bingo card.


But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life.
Deuteronomy 12:23


Chapter 1
- - - - - - - - -

He knows it's a dream. He also knows he's about to die. The room is filled with people with the same luminous eyes, and his hostess' grip on his arm is keeping him firmly in place.

"Everybody, I want you to meet Food. Food, everybody."

In the dream Morse is there as well, his eyes shining like the others'. He knows that's not right. It wasn't... this isn't how it went.

When he wakes up he realises what has been bugging him about the case, about Zoë, her air of artificiality... it was all too familiar, and that means Hathaway is still in danger.

Fire, of course she chose fire to kill herself.

* * *

It's two AM but he gets up and puts on the first clothes he finds. He could be wrong. He fervently hopes he's wrong.

He drives over to Hathaways' place, fighting the urge to speed. There is no answer to the doorbell, his knocks, or the phone call he belatedly remembers to try. He lets himself in with the spare set of keys Hathaway gave him weeks ago.

He finds his sergeant in the bathroom, soaking wet from sweating, throwing up blood, and in obvious pain.

It could all be after effects from the drug he was given. But he had spent a day in the hospital while it flushed out of his system so Lewis doubts it.

”What's wrong with me?” Hathaway asks, clinging to the bowl, retching.

”Zoë – Feardorcha – brought something more than just a new body from Brazil.”

”I'm ill?”

”In a manner of speaking.”

”It doesn't feel like anything I've ever felt... not 'flu, not hangover, nothing.”

”It's nothing you have felt before.”

Lewis hadn't seen it the last time but he knows enough to recognise the symptoms. He doesn't know what to say. 'You're dying' would just scare the lad needlessly, as well as be misleading.

He helps Hathaway clean up, then takes him to bed. He's done it often enough – to Morse, to his kids – and Hathaway is too far off to protest or even feel embarrassed.

He falls into fitful sleep and Lewis watches over him, waiting for the moment he stops breathing.

* * *

Chapter 2
- - - - - - - - -

”Here, drink this,” a voice says. Lewis. His boss. Is he still at the hospital, then?

He's hungry, so hungry it burns his throat, and thirsty too – like he really, really wants a drink. No... he wants – craves – something but he can't come up with words. There's only the need, and something smells delicious very close to his nose, and he has taken a sip from the glass before he can think about it. It's warm, thick – the best thing he's ever tasted and it slakes the thirst, takes away the hunger and the pain...

The pain is gone. He opens his eyes and sees Lewis sitting on his bed side, and now he registers the hand behind his head, helping him to drink from the glass full of... of something deep red.

”What the hell?”

He wants to spit it out but it's too good to waste. He takes a breath and realises it's his first one since waking up.

He's still asleep. Fever dreams. Drugged. Because this is – not – happening.

”Easy, lad,” Lewis says, calmly, soothingly, as if he isn't feeding blood to his young sergeant.

”Is that... is it...”

”Aye. Are you sure you're up to this now?”

”I feel better than I have in... clear headed, at least.”

”Okay. Zoë... infected you before her death.”

”Infected me,” he repeats, tonelessly.

”With what you probably best know as vampirism.”

He looks at Lewis, waiting for the punchline – but there is the not breathing thing, and the blood-like substance was so good... wait, blood.

"Where did you get..." he starts, then sees the dressing on Lewis' left arm and feels dizzy. Lewis' blood - in him. It feels impossibly intimate.

"How do you..." It seems like he's lost his ability to finish his sentences along with his life but Lewis still understands.

"Morse," he replies, shrugging.

"Morse was a..."

"We called it his diabetes. it killed him in the end. Sorry, no eternal youth and beauty for you. You'll... well. It rather depends on how well you'll adapt. You could very well live a full life."

"But... sunlight?" He feels silly, asking about something like that, but the whole thing is beyond absurd and the only way to deal with it seems to be to roll with it.

"No problem. Most of everything you think you know is myth. Are you sure you're up to this now?"

"I could do with another drink," he says automatically before the implications sink in and he feels horrified at his own suggestion.

But Lewis just removes the bandage and offers his arm to him.

"Trust me," he says, reassuringly. "It's better that it's my blood."

The smell is so sweet he can't help himself, he takes the offered arm and sucks on the still open wound. The skin is warm under his fingers and oh God the taste that fills his mouth, his consciousness, his soul...

His soul.

He tears his mouth off the inviting flesh and turns his head away, grimacing. "I am damned."

"No." The word is so strong, the resolve behind it so certain he has to turn to look.

"You are not evil, you are not a demon, you do not need to kill. Ever. James - Jim - you can do everything you have done before. You can even eat regular food if you want to. It won't be enough to sustain you but there is nothing to stop you from enjoying the taste. There are perks to your new... state. Your senses are better than they were. You're a bit more... durable. There are restrictions, too. Some. Just... keep breathing and you'll be fine. You can pass for hum... regular human. You can work."

"But I'll need blood."

"Yes. But the amount is honestly so small you never need to worry about killing someone."

"What if... the crime scenes, if there is blood, won't I...?"

Lewis snorts. "Do you lose your mind in the cafeteria even if you're hungry? That's not a problem. Besides..." he trails off as if unsure whether to continue.

"Besides?" James prompts.

Lewis gives him a self-deprecating smile. "My blood's your yardstick now. Nothing will ever taste quite as good. Sorry. But it's safer this way."

"Safer? If I start viewing you as food?"

"We'll deal with it."

* * *

Chapter 3
- - - - - - - - -

James doesn't mean to eavesdrop but his hearing is so much better now it is hard not to keep hearing things he isn't meant to.

He has found it increasingly hard to let Lewis out of his sight. He keeps listening to the other man - his discussions, his breathing, his heartbeat - through most of the day... and when James realises he's talking to Laura Hobson he just can't leave. The sudden possessive spike should scare him more than in does.

"Laura, I need some liquid skin."

"Robbie? What could you possibly... oh no."

"Let's just say it's good thing Zoë Kenneth didn't end up in the morgue."

"...James? Robbie, are you sure of this?"

"What else am I supposed to do? Help him rob blood banks? I've done it before."

"But you were younger then. And in a better condition."

"So I'll eat healthier food from now on. Can you help me or not, Laura?"

There's a deep sigh. "Of course. I'll whip up a batch. And I'll find a doctor to sign off his physicals."

"You're an angel. Thank you."

"How about you thank me by buying me a dinner. Say, in an hour?"

"Sorry, promised to talk with James about all this tonight."

"Naturally. Some other time, then."

"Sure."

James can't figure out which is stronger, the relief of Lewis not leaving him alone tonight or the anger over that future evening when he will. His jealousy is almost out of control right now. He's afraid to ask about it from Lewis, though, in case it isn't a side effect, if it's just him - Lewis wouldn't want to stay close to him after that. Then again, the man seems to take everything in stride, his lies, the vampire thing...

Then the idea of an evening with Lewis takes over his mind to the exclusion of all other thoughts. He tries so hard to not think about blood, but his mouth waters at the thought of the sweet, sweet liquid hitting his palate, of sinking his newly-grown fangs into willing flesh... His eyes snap open when he realises he's getting hard. At work!

Not that thinking about Lewis in that way is anything new, but he hadn't realised feeding on blood would be so sexual.

Damn, was it always like that? Had Morse...? Damn.

* * *

Lewis drives them both to his place after work, picking up take away on the way. James doesn't comment beyond saying he's not really hungry. He has been quiet for the whole day but it's not like Lewis can blame him.

Maybe he should have rejected James' plea of returning to work until they get a better handle of the situation.

He leaves James sitting on the sofa and takes the food to the kitchen, along with several vitamin supplements Laura gave him. He has no doubt she will present him with iron supplements the next day.

Despite his words he's not sure he's still up to this. He is not as young as he was when he was Morse's donor, after all. But what else is he supposed to do? Hathaway, James, needs this. And it's better that it's him and not a random pick up, or depleting the life saving blood reserves at hospitals.

Besides, the whole blood thing is not as much about physical sustenance as it is about magical – it would take months for the amounts to harm him more than regular blood tests would.

All they have to do now is to determine the amounts the younger man needs, and the take away food is needed for just that experiment.

* * *

James hadn't felt hungry, but presented with curry he tucks in automatically.

It is the first meal he has attempted since waking up into his new life... death... whatever. All of his senses are better now, and taste is not an exemption. The chicken sauce tastes... different than he expected. Good. Very good, and he hadn't expected that. He hasn't craved anything since waking up, not coffee, not cigarettes (the idea of trying to smoke one with his improved sense of smell makes him nauseous), only...

”Did you... is there blood in this?”

Lewis smiles. ”Is it working?”

”Well it tastes wonderful,” James replies, trying a smile of his own. ”And... it's taking my hunger away.”

”Good. That means you won't kill me with your needs.”

His smile is gone as fast as it appeared. Vampires are killers. They have always been, and Lewis' matter of fact dealing with the subject doesn't really change the fact.

”Tell me everything you know,” he pleads quietly, and Lewis sighs, putting his own food down.

”Most of what I know I know because of Morse. He had been changed when he was in his forties, by a woman, of course. His luck with love was... well. It didn't agree with him. His health was poor and he barely made do. Then I started working with him, and after being kidnapped by a bunch of vampires and subsequently saved by Morse he told me... very little, actually.”

He pauses to take a sip of his drink then goes on, not looking at James.

”Vampires are like rest of us humans, there are the regular kind and then there are the criminals. It's the latter you have heard of. They're where the horror stories come from. They prey on humans and dry them to death. The reason, I have been told, is that they keep trying to recapture that first, perfect taste of the first blood they take. Of course, mostly they can't because the person is dead. Donors die because the vampires lose focus and take too much, or because they kill them to cover their tracks.”

So he's my drug now, thinks James. Is he going to be as hard to quit as cigarettes? As unhealthy?

”Morse of course didn't kill his first donor but the vampire who created him did, fearing she would take her place in his affections. This, of course, is Morse's version. He never even told me their names. He only ever made do with my blood, and never let me forget it. He didn't need much, but he wanted it. It was the only way he could still enjoy a drink. His drinking killed him, and would probably have killed me, too, in the end.”

His voice is matter of fact, with no bitterness James can determine but he feels angry over what his friend had given to that ungrateful bastard, and probably had never heard one word of thanks. He could, would never do that to Lewis..

”I.... thank you for...” he doesn't know how to finish. Thank you for putting yourself in that position again? Thank you for telling him? Thank you for blood? Thank you for not calling him a monster?

”Don't mention it. Do you need more?”

”No! No, I... I'm not hungry anymore. Thanks.”

”Are you tired?”

”Do I still need to sleep?” James asks, only now thinking about it. ”I'm not at all tired.”

”I'm not quite sure if you can sleep anymore. Sorry, I probably should have mentioned it before. I wish there was a manual.”

”Ever?”

”Older vampires do. Morse told me once it took him about a decade to regain the ability. He read a lot. Really, a lot.”

”Anything else I can look forward to?”

”Well, you won't tan.”

James looks pointedly at his pale arm, and they share the first laugh of the evening.

* * *

Chapter 4
- - - - - - - -

Their lives settle on a weirdly normal tract. James doesn't sleep, doesn't like bright sunlight anymore, and hears a lot better these days. Lewis laces his food and drinks with blood and keeps popping different dietary supplements with his own food.

It is funny, even though he can't taste the blood in his coffee, he can still feel it there, feel the rejuvenating effect he once got from just the coffee, and understands why the whole needing blood thing is so often referred to as 'addiction' instead of feeding.

He doesn't sleep but learns to fall into a kind of trance-like state with half-forgotten methods of meditation. He doesn't dream, but he finds himself daydreaming a lot. Mostly about Lewis, about sinking his fangs into his skin.

Ingesting blood in his food sustains him but it is just that. There is no pleasure in it. He craves the feel of skin under his mouth, the chance to sink his fangs into yielding flesh, sucking the warm blood straight from a vein.

The most treasured of his dreams is the one where he finally bites Lewis on the neck. The idea feels more intimate than a kiss, almost like sex, and the visual never fails to arouse him.

He knows he can never actually do it. It would have to be too much for Lewis, even after everything he has done, and it would reveal way too much of James' feelings towards him.

He doesn't even dare to speculate on the consequences of that revelation. Surely Lewis would want to distance himself from James then? Who would feel comfortable with the knowledge they were the obsession of a vampire?

* * *

As James has only ever had a professional relationship with Dr Hobson it takes him some time to realise the woman is acting very cold towards him, almost angry at times. Even when he does notice, he is hesitant to address it because she is Lewis' friend, after all, and it doesn't affect the work.

He would have probably just let it lie but then Lewis feels momentarily faint while they are discussing a case with the doctor, and the look she shoots at James is hostile enough to wound.

He waits until Lewis is distracted by paperwork before making his way back to the morgue.

”What do you want?” The question is less than polite and only manages to make James even angrier.

”To know what your damn problem is,” he replies, voice calmer than his insides.

”What my problem is?”

”Yes!”

”My problem is that a very dear friend of mine seems to be intent on killing himself to provide for an addict.”

James recoils as if struck. An addict? Is that how she sees him? Not as an inhuman monster but a very human one? And what does she mean, killing himself?

”The amounts of blood he's... donating to keep me alive are so small...” he says, not about to admit his own conflict about the source of his sustenance.

Hobson interrupts him with a sarcastic ”ha!” and marches to a fridge near the lab, flinging the door open.

James stares at the neatly lined rows of vials filled with blood, looking for all the world like regular samples for lab tests. He turns to Hobson for clarification.

All anger is gone from her now, she just stares at the vials, looking sad.

”Every day, despite my protests,” she explains quietly. ”He wants to leave you provided for.”

”Leave me...”

”For when he dies.”

James turns around and runs.

* * *

He locks himself in the men's room, too conscientious to leave the station, no matter what his state of mind.

He tries to untangle the different emotions assaulting him. There is fear, annoyance, fear, gratefulness, remorse, fear, and tender, aching love.

Is Lewis working out of duty? Protecting others from his hunger?

Or is he doing it for James?

The sight and smell of the blood did not make him hungry but the implications, the meaning behind the stash has him ravenous. It feels like his fangs are aching to bite into flesh, to... to feed, to claim, to mark as his, to see if that, too, would be allowed.

* * *

He comes back to their office quietly, and Lewis only barely glances at him before returning his attention to the file he is reading.

James sits down and, under the pretence of reading a file of his own, keeps an eye on the older man, trying to decide whether he looks paler than he did before. He should be able tell, with his enhanced eyesight, shouldn't he?

Does his heart beat faster, is it under more strain?

“Here, look at this,” Lewis says, and James snaps out of his reverie back into work mode.

Criminals to chase, murderers to catch. Plenty of time later to ponder whether he is one himself.

* * *

“This” turns out to be a transliteration of an interview with a witness in the case they are investigating. More specifically, it is a side comment neither one of them paid any attention at the time but now, with the appearance of a second body, it suddenly opens new doors.

“Let's go,” says Lewis, and James is more than happy to leave the station – and his thoughts – behind.

“Can you hear anything?” Lewis asks as they are standing behind the door to the witness in question's apartment, casual as can be in his taking advantage of James' new, enhanced senses.

“He's in there all right – or at least someone is. I can hear them breathing from here.”

“Oxford CID, open the door!” Lewis repeats, loud, then, lower to James: “Is he okay?”

“Scared, I think... his heart is beating really fast but there is no movement to indicate exertion.”

Lewis just nods, and James realises this is most likely the way the other man was used to working, with a supernatural being by his side, and the years with just a human sergeant were the aberration.

* * *

They solve the case within a few days. It makes James feel better, knowing he can still work, that they can still work, just as they always have.

Things are better, after. He can almost forget what he has become, at times. He eats only when with Lewis, but as they are together almost every day, it doesn't matter. He doesn't need to think about it. And the not sleeping just gives him more time to play, to read, to listen to music in peace.

If he is honest to himself, he knows he is using the books and the records to hide, immersing himself in things that stop him from wondering about his future, about what he is, what he can do, and what is going to happen.

In other words, he thinks, he spends his time with his head buried in sand.

And, as always, it comes back to bite him in the arse.

* * *

Chapter 5
- - - - - - - -

It was supposed to be a routine interview. Nothing in the case so far or in their records had showed that their interviewee was violent, or armed, so they took no precautions beyond usual.

It all happens so fast; there's yelling and running and gunshots and James is stuck in the second floor when Lewis stops a bullet and ends up bleeding on the street.

James has his phone out, he has been calling for backup, now he's screaming for an ambulance.

(Lewis is dying.)

He is glued to the window, knowing he has to turn around, find the stairs, get down there as soon as possible.

(Lewis is dying.)

He needs to get there now but the stairs are too far. The window is right there.

What does “a bit more durable” mean? A human couldn't make the jump. They might survive, but break both legs and not be any use to anyone.

(Lewis is dying.)

He opens the window, gets up on the windowsill, knowing very well this might end up being worse, that he might just become another victim, another patient, and what if he ends up in a hospital, they'll notice he has no heartbeat, and...

But Lewis is dying. And this is the only way to get to him fast enough to stem the blood flow from his shoulder, to stop him from bleeding dry.

It feels like ages, but in reality his thoughts have taken only a few seconds, and then the decision is made.

He jumps.

* * *

Damn, but it hurts, his ankles, his knees, his hip – every joint feels like they've been hit with a hammer, his palms are scraped open – but he can stand. His legs can take his weight and that is the only thing that matters.

The shooter is gone, but James doesn't spare a second's thought to following him.

(Lewis is dying.)

He can hear his boss' heartbeat, and rushes to his side, tearing off his jacket and shirt on the way, ripping his tie in the process. Lewis' mouth is open as he's gasping for breath, face contorted in pain. His hand is clutching at the wound, doing nothing to stem the blood flow.

It's not on his shoulder, after all, but on the upper part of his left arm, the right hand red and trembling around it.

James can feel the world slow down around him as he kneels on Lewis' side, removing his hand to replace it with his shirt, tying it around the arm like a tourniquet. The bullet went through, the exit wound evident even in the bloody mess, and he knows it's good, but still the double wound worries him. There's only so much blood in the human body and Lewis is already flirting with anaemia due to his “donations”. He folds his jacket under the other man's head, then clamps his hands around the arm, noticing the blood seeping through the makeshift bandage already.

“It'll be all right, sir, the ambulance is on its way. You'll be okay.”

He doesn't know if he is reassuring himself or his boss, but he can't keep quiet.

The other man is so pale, so silent, and... he isn't so young any more. Can his body take this?

Lewis opens his eyes, and James breathes a sigh of relief – the first breath he has taken since the whole situation began.

He can smell the blood now, sweet and tempting, as always, but feeding is the last thing on his mind right now.

“Tell Lyn...” the older man starts but James interrupts him angrily.

“You are not dying!”

“Lad...”

“I will not let you!”

“You will be okay, you know,” Lewis says, weakly, liking his pale lips. “I've taken care of...”

He's thinking about that now? He's thinking James is only worried about losing his blood bank? He would be insulted if he wasn't so scared.

He carefully extracts one hand from around the wound and cups Lewis' face with it, uncaring of the blood stains he leaves behind.

“I have never viewed you as food, sir,” he says, slowly, stressing every word. “And I will not let you die.”

Lewis closes his eyes and seems to sag even though he is lying down.

“If you dare to even try dying, I swear I will make you transform! I don't even know how it's done, but I swear to God I will find out. I will not let you leave me, sir!”

The other man opens his eyes again. They stare at each other for a long moment, and James is not sure what he's showing on his face. All he feels is despair.

“I think you'd better call me Robbie,” Lewis says, and passes out.

His heart is still beating, and James concentrates on that, as well as on the faint sound of sirens his preternatural hearing is finally picking up in the distance.

Lewis... Robbie will not die.

* * *

In the waiting room, wrapped in a blanket the ambulance crew gave him, his hands brown with dried blood, James closes his eyes, and for the first time since the fire, since his... transformation, he prays.

He hasn't dared to, before.

“You shall not eat the blood,” says the Bible, and also “If anyone eats blood, that person must be cut off from his people." And sure, it talks about fowl and cattle, sacrificial animals, but humans are animals... Still, he eats shellfish, and has shaved his hair, and yes, wears polyester blends, so it would be stupid to get hung on one line of Leviticus.

He hasn't found himself in there, not in this, no matter how many nights he has spent reading.

And he is tired of hating himself, especially over things he cannot change.

He is tired, and he is scared, and God is forgiveness.

* * *

Chapter 6
- - - - - - - -

Robbie stays in the hospital for weeks, and when ever James is not by his side he is experimenting.

He needs to know what he is, there is no hiding any more. He needs to know his limits. He needs to know his strength. He needs to understand what he can and cannot do.

He needs to be prepared, for the next time. He will use every scrap of his new... powers, for a lack of a better word, to protect Robbie. He never wants to see him down again. He never wants to smell his blood for any other reason than voluntary donation.

He is obsessed with learning, now, when earlier he only wanted to forget what he'd become.

He tests the limits of his sight, his hearing, his sense of smell. He blindfolds himself and navigates his and Robbie's apartments based on touch alone. He times his healing with a stopwatch.

Paper cuts heal in an hour, deeper wounds take a while longer, and a broken finger is as good as new in a day. He now knows exactly how much force it takes to break the bone. He doesn't wonder he survived the jump, now.

He eats food but it doesn't sustain him. It takes a few days for it to show, though. The hungrier he gets, the keener his senses seem to become. He supposes it makes sense, from a hunting point of view. His wounds take longer to heal.

He gets pig blood from the butcher, and it... sustains him. It's not good, but it's better than regular food. He could live on it, but no matter how much he drinks it, he stays paler than usual, and starts feeling exhausted again at the end of a day, which he never did when consuming human blood. Le... Robbie's blood.

Innocent notices, and reminds him sternly to look after himself better – she does not need both parts of the partnership in the hospital.

Hobson notices as well. One day he stops James on his way to the office and unceremoniously drops a couple of vials of blood on his hand. He flinches, but she smiles, very faintly, before reassuring him that it's not Lewis' blood.

Only when he opens the vial does he realise it's her own. The smell is distinct. He suddenly realises that what he considers other people's scent these days always incorporates a tang of their blood, smelled through the skin. He could pinpoint Robbie's blood from a tray of vials.

That... is disturbing but it might also come in handy at work.

He wishes someone had given him a manual, so that all these realisations weren't so random. But he can learn. He will not hide from this anymore. After all, if he wasn't... what he was, Lewis – Robbie – would be dead.

If he had to become a vampire to achieve that, he will live with it.

* * *

Chapter 7
- - - - - - - -

“I'm fine,” Robbie says tetchily as James keeps the door open for him.

“Of course you are, sir,” he says, brightly, his smile just a shade too happy to be called smug.

Robbie knows he shouldn't be complaining, it wasn't fair to the lad who had gone above and beyond duty during his stay at the hospital.

And what he had seen on the younger man's face that evening... Best not think about that. He had been suffering from blood loss, after all. Could be imagining things. Bound to be imagining things.

He makes his way to the sofa, not willing to admit that the arm is aching even with the sling.

As it happens, he doesn't need to because before he has time to even reach for the remote his sergeant is placing a glass of water and a bottle of pills on the table in front of him.

“What do you want to eat, sir?”

He considers telling James to go home but knows he won't, and knows he doesn't want him to go, not really.

“I thought I told you to call me Robbie,” he reminds the younger man, and turns just in time to see the almost shy smile on his face.

“Yes, si... Robbie.”

“What have you been eating?” he asks, suddenly. He hadn't wanted to mention the subject in the hospital but he had worried.

He can see the other man tries to keep his face straight but cannot fight the disgusted curl of his lip when he replies. “Pig's blood.”

“Not good?”

“Not enough.” And now the expression is self-deprecating.

“Do you need...?”

“No!” The denial is vehement, and so fast it actually hurts a little, which James notices, of course.

“Robbie, you just got out of the hospital. Where you were because you suffered a near fatal blood loss. You will not be... donating blood any time soon.”

“But you...”

“Dr Hobson has been... helping.”

“Laura? But she... well, good.”

Robbie wonders if that means she has been supplying him with the stored blood, or something else. He wants to ask if it's as good as his, if the other man won't need him anymore.

It may be stupid but the idea of James drinking his blood and his blood alone has been... pleasant. Intimate. The act even more poignant now than with Morse.

Of course, he hadn't been in love with Morse.

* * *

“Let me help you with the sling,” James says, as Robbie gets up to go to bed.

“I'll manage.”

“I'm sure you could but I am here so you don't need to.”

Robbie shakes his head, but isn't surprised when the younger man follows him to his bedroom, and stands too close to unhook the sling from around his neck.

Their hands reach for his shirt buttons at the same time, and both flinch.

James raises his eyes to meet his and... and maybe he didn't imagine the look, after all.

“Lad...” he whispers, not knowing what to say.

“Robbie,” James responds, equally quiet, equally lost.

“Let me,” he says, and Robbie lets his arms fall out of the way.

He hardly dares to breath while the younger man opens the buttons, one by one, his skin cool where it touches the skin beneath, and Robbie is shivering.

James doesn't ask him if he's cold, nor does he stop, but there seems to be a pinkish flush on his usually so pale cheeks.

When he brings his hands up again to push the shirt off Robbie's shoulders he raises his eyes again from where they have been following the progress of his hands.

He looks so young, so beautiful, so scared.

Robbie is painfully aware of his own soft middle, his worn skin, his wrinkles, the bandage on his arm, the years – decades – separating them. But he raises his right hand to trace the oh-so-familiar features in front of him, and now it's James' turn to shiver.

“I should let you get some sleep,” James says, sounding reluctant.

Robbie lets his hand slide to the back of his head, pulling it down towards his face, gently. “Maybe you should.”

“I'll see you tomorrow,” James says, and his intonation makes it a question.

Robbie can feel a small smile tugging at his lips. “Yes.”

They are both frozen in position now, both on the same page – at least so it seems – and both just basking in the anticipation. They can only have a first kiss once, after all. Robbie can feel his breathing gain speed, his body poised for... what? Fight or flight?

James' hands are behind his neck now, tangling in his hair. Definitely on the same page. Robbie can feel the spark of arousal but this isn't really about that, not now. This is about so much more.

And then James ducks his head down the rest of the way, and their lips touch for the first time.

It's gentle, almost hesitant, skin against skin with the lightest pressure. Innocent. Nothing to warrant the way his heart is hammering in his chest, and he suddenly realises that James can hear it now. Can hear the blood racing in his veins, but this isn't about that, either, not now.

He uses the hand behind James' head to pull the younger man closer, deepening the kiss by a fraction, opening his mouth to taste, and James lets him. It's still so very light, slow and tender, still so very innocent.

James pulls back, slowly, and not far, so he doesn't worry. He can see the other man swallowing.

“I really, really should let you get some sleep now,” James says, as if he has to force the words out, and Robbie laughs, suddenly blindingly happy.

* * *

Chapter 8
- - - - - - - - -

James refuses to sleep with Robbie while he still has to wear the sling. He can't bear the thought of accidentally hurting the other man. He also refuses his blood, partly in deference to his health, partly to make it absolutely certain that this... this new relationship has nothing to do with that.

He can feel the craving, though. There is desire, the usual carnal longing for the other man's body, the passion that their increasingly intense kissing sessions do nothing to diminish. But there is also the newly acquired need to sink his fangs into the willing flesh, to suck on the life-sustaining liquid running in the other man's veins, and the smell of it through his skin is enough to make him whimper in need.

But this isn't about that. He wants Robbie to be sure of that. So, even if it makes him feel naked and vulnerable, he tells the other man this happened way before the transformation, that he fell in... that he fell, long before. That this isn't just a... a side-effect.

Robbie looks at him with that soft, tender look in his eyes, and just for a second James thinks that he must have looked at his children like that, and then the thought passes, because the kiss that follows is not paternal in the least.

It's hot and all-consuming, it's a declaration, a claiming. “I know,” he says, in between the deep kisses. “I trust you.”

James feels a bit like after his jump, like someone hit him with a hammer, or maybe like he just drunk a shot of purest blood, because the words are the biggest aphrodisiac he has ever encountered. Robbie trusts him, said the words to a vampire.

He stands claimed.

* * *

The day is like any other, nowadays. Robbie is back at work, even if they are stuck doing paperwork. He looks like he did, healthy and strong, and his heartbeat is even, a security blanket at the edge of James' consciousness all through the day.

One good thing about light duties is getting out at the regular hour, and they bicker about dinner on their way out. For James their interaction screams “couple” but no one pays them any attention. No one notices that anything is different.

Were they always...?

He doesn't care to finish the thought.

They settle on take away curry, and wash it down with beer. James really enjoys his and it takes him a minute to realise why. His head jerks up to meet Robbie's expectant gaze. The other man is smiling. How can he look so happy to be donating blood?

He opens his mouth but Robbie silences him. “Even Laura agrees it's safe. I'm fine.”

The rejuvenating effect of his blood is irrefutable, and James feels alive in a way he didn't realise he hasn't been feeling for, damn, weeks now. Pig's blood sustains him, other people's blood can make him feel normal, but Robbie's blood...

He hears the whimper before he realises it came from his throat. Robbie's pupils widen and his pulse speeds up noticeably, and James can't hold back anymore. He pounces.

* * *

Robbie's shirt is in tatters on the living room floor, the button from his trousers is somewhere in the corridor, and his pants hang from the door of the bedroom. James' clothes are somewhere between the door and the bed, buttons mostly in place, seams mostly in tact.

There isn't a second of that journey when someone's mouth isn't on someone's skin. Their kisses are even more out of control now, claiming, taking, giving. Their hands try to take in all of each other, to run over every inch of the skin, to find all those spots that make them sigh and gasp and scream.

James pushes Robbie down on the bed before him, cool, dry skin against the hot and sweaty one. His insistent erection is rubbing against Robbie's – quite frankly, quite impressive – length, and their combined scent is overwhelming for his vampire senses. Sweat, saliva, blood... blood, sweet and tantalising, just beneath the thin, thin skin. He can smell it, he can hear it, he can see it, and it is calling to him stronger than ever before.

But this is not about that, he reminds himself. He pulls up to meet Robbie's eyes. There is hunger on the older man's face, but there is understanding too, and then he... he... he moves his head, quite purposefully baring his neck. James can't believe the invitation, resisting the near irresistible urge to bite, to claim.

“Come on, lad,” Robbie encourages. “I can see you want to, you need to. I trust you.”

He swallows. Did Morse... is that why Robbie knows how long he has been fantasising about this?

“Did... did he...” he can't get the words out, his jealousy is driving all other thoughts out of his head.

But of course Robbie understands. “Never. Never directly from my body.”

He has bitten down before he realised he has made the decision, and he can feel Robbie tensing beneath him as his fangs break the sweet-smelling skin. He worries, for a fraction of a second, before the sweetness of Robbie's blood assaults all of his senses. The rich taste caresses his tongue, and he drinks, hungry, thirsty, overwhelmed with love and desire, and it's as good as he knew it would be. It's everything. It's like getting inside Robbie's body, or getting him inside his, and then, to make it even better, he realises he's not the only one enjoying it.

Robbie is writhing under him, but not in panic, not in fear, the sounds he is making obscene in their enjoyment, and then he feels the hot wetness on his skin, and before he can figure out it what it means he is coming, coming, hanging in an endless moment of bliss while all his senses overload, and his brain shuts down as if in sleep.

Peace.

* * *

James comes to his senses, feeling like he's waking up, and sees Robbie holding a pillowcase to his bleeding neck.

“Let me see,” he urges, and Robbie peels the material off his skin.

“It's not bad. There's something in your saliva that aids the coagulation process. It's barely bleeding anymore.”

He looks at Robbie's skin, the small puncture wounds which seem to be closing as they speak.

“But... then... we are not designed to be killers,” he says, confused and elated. Maybe he is not a monster. What predator helps his prey heal?

Robbie is smiling, perhaps a little indulgently, like he can hear James' thoughts.

“No, love,” he says, softly. “Not a killer. Not a storybook monster.”

Love. A person as good and honest as Robbie couldn’t love a monster, surely? So it must be true.

It really is a gift, not a curse.

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